When family values are invoked, several questions are raised. Does it belong to the right or to the left, in political terms? What is its history? Christian fundamentalists draw on a very particular reading of the Bible and cultural tradition in the West to display their concept of the ‘natural family.’ Feminist philosophers analyze the symbolic order of Western metaphysics to explain the society’s conception of the family, and the values and expectations the society places on femininity accordingly. Sociologists and other theorists account for the family with reference to social structures and data constantly under review and revision in the West. Religion has played a very important and crucial role and has established deep rooted effects about various customs and traditions of each individual society. Even today, the culture and traditions are directly linked with religion only. Therefore, it is generally referred to as Hindu Culture, Muslim Culture, and Christian Culture etc. Any society belonging to and following customs of particular culture, cannot separate itself from religious bonds and bindings.
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The 21st century has dawned with evolutions and revolutions in the positions of the family in the society. For a long time, the family has been the basic unit of the society. Through the family, empires, and clans have been established with their presence experienced globally. However, the contemporary generation has mixed views on the position of the family. This is as a result of the ambiguity existing in the definition of family resulting to fight over marriage and sexual rights. For instance, in 2004, there was a sexual panic in USA spurred by President Bush’s union address on marriage. According to Herdit (2004, p. 157), the stage was set for politics of marriage. President Bush viewed marriage between a man and a woman as a symbol of civilization and was supported by religious stakeholders. On the other hand the gay and lesbian couples took to stage by lining up at City Hall insane Francisco to be married. These mentioned cases are instances that characterize the place of a family in the contemporary generation. It seems difficult to have a clear-cut definition of family in the mentioned contexts. This is as a result of the variation in the morals, standards of living, principles of relationship, and ethics in each context. This means that family values in the contemporary generations are diverse.
Accordingly, the members of family cannot free themselves easily from the traditions being followed by the family and have to follow customary practices. For this very reason, certain occupations have become hereditary. Thus decisions of society or clan have more influence than the decision of the family, because the decision of society is the decision of large group and it is not so easy to ignore the mandate of society. The influence of religion can be visualized easily even on such small things as Dress, Food, Marriage, Education, Various celebration of life. The dress we wear is very frequently related or guided by the religious outlook. Hindus wear DHOTI-KURTA, Muslims wear SALWAR-KAMIZ, and so on. Similarly, it is general trend that Hindus, Jain; Brahmins are mostly vegetarians, whereas Muslims and Christians are predominantly non-vegetarians. In the same way, various rituals of marriages are different in societies following different religions. The birth of a child and the birth day celebrations are quite different and almost totally influenced by the religious beliefs. Similarly different customs exist are followed when someone passes away. These types of differences can be found not only in our country but all over the world. We have described very briefly the above differences among societies following different religions. But even among the societies following same religion, these are minor but very specific differences of traditions and customs between one clan and another. Similarly, some differences exist among smaller groups also. Furthermore there are still more specific differences between one family and other; even though they belong to some clan. For example, few traditions and customs differ among Swetamber and Dig amber sects of Jain religion. Similarly many minor variations can be easily traced between Siya and Sunni among Muslim and Catholic and Protestants among Christians. But it is very important to note that impact and influence of religion is so deep rooted that it is very difficult to escape from it.
In spite of tremendous scientific developments and logical outlook, the individuals and the families becomes so inclined and adjusted in traditions and customs guided by religious agencies, that they cannot make themselves free. Because if they make themselves free from one religion, they adopt another religion and there also they will have to follow some new religious customs and traditions. Thus the influence of religion remains with individual from his birth till death. Similarly each and every family is influence to great extent by religion and religious institutions. With the change of orthodox outlook and thinking, the religious thinking and attitude is also becoming more and more progressive and adopting scientific and logical attitudes. Now the religious customs, rituals and traditions are also becoming more and more logical and reasoning based. This change is gradually bringing a closer association and mixing of religious attitude with scientific reasons. The norms and standards are being modified, so as to retain the basic fundamentals of all the religion, i.e. honesty, truth, love, sympathy etc., and incorporations of scientific approach. The religion, in fact, establishes and develops the morality and character. The action of hatred, theft, gambling, drinking etc., etc., are labeled as ‘SINS’ and are said to be punishable by GOD. These notions get deeply rooted in the mind of a child and remain there forever and thus help in building his character. For inculcating these conceptions, the religious attitude of family plays the most important and permanent role.
In olden days, the schools had been imparting education relating to each and every aspect of life. The students used to stay at their teacher’s place. They worked there and also got education in various disciplines. The cultural development, religious attitudes and social development had great influence of the teacher. With the change of social structure, scientific approach and modifications, the structural changes occurred in educational systems also. The earlier education was more directed to moral values and the learners used to adopt their family trades. With the scientific development and industrialization, the education became more and more job oriented and attention towards moral ethics gradually declined. Even though attention has always been on development of good qualities of human beings like Truth, Sympathy, Love, Honesty, Non-violence etc., etc., but more and more emphasis is now on materialistic achievements. This overall change in attitude has affected each and every aspect of life. The individuals do not care much about honesty and truth, but they feel pride for their worldly possessions like a good and big house or an expensive car. This change in individual’s attitude is affecting the family relations and social relations also. Now the younger ones can be seen arguing with the elders, which was almost absent in earlier periods. However, the Educational Institutions are playing important role, so as to bring and maintain a proper balance between moral and materialistic attitudes. But it is also true that with changing times, the outlook is changing very rapidly.
The life style is also becoming more and more scientific. The new gadgets of domestic use are finding more and more place in every family. The individuals can handle them very conveniently because of their scientific background. These changes and modifications are fats changing the face of the society. The education now-a-days has such a great influence on individuals as well on families, that entire routine of daily life is almost different than what it used to be. Earlier most of the education was oral. Only some practical professions were taught by the teachers. Gradually, the books became the source of knowledge. Now the computerized system are becoming more and more useful, resulting into an altogether changed society. The education now-a-days provides more better basic understanding about man’s different needs, when he is a child, adult or old.
The food, nutrition, health care, security, protection from diseases, cures of diseases, physiological needs like love and affection, cooperation, profession, economy and living standard are now analyzed more systematically and logically. Through modern education, around development can be accomplished by individuals as well as the families. The social institutions like schools, colleges, cultural societies, hospitals, civic bodies etc., etc., are all helping to possible extent in this direction. Thus family like as well as life of an individual is greatly influenced by Education. Now it is not so easy to deceive or befoul an educated person. Education definitely makes a man enlightened. His approach, thinking and attitude is modified considerably towards his faith in religion and values in life. Accordingly the change in family like is also evident. The dresses, food habits, general standard of living, item of daily use are becoming almost similar day-by-day, as the education is spreading. Most of the people have started wearing pants-shirts, neck-ties, coat etc. irrespective of their clan or culture or religious affiliation. Whereas in olden days, it was entirely a different scene. Similarly food habits are changing because children very quickly adopt what their age-mates or class-mates do. The language-spoken and written, and the attitudes and behaviours are acquiring uniformity. Thus education is affecting all social norms and values significantly.
In conclusion, a family is an essential unit of the society. It is remains the basic block of building the society and the country. For a long time, a family has traced its origin around a male member of the society and also from ancestral ties. People have been named and behaved based on their lineage. As results, family values have been based on the practices of their ancestral ties. Although an ancestral tie remains of significant value to the family, the contemporary society has no fixed definition of family values. Environment and time has dictated the concept of the family values. In a capitalistic society like Australia, values in the family do not follow one channel. Amidst the ambiguity, a nuclear family remains the ideal benchmark unit of family with ethical values prevailing in the same being valued and justified.
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